Video of my October 2010 presentation at TEDxGotham about how we can engender a new era of efficiency in government by building share platforms. Inspired by the concepts in Lisa Gansky’s new book The Mesh.
I’ll be giving a number of invited presentations this Fall, focusing on what we’ve learned by executing our Open Senate initiatives in New York State, and how these lessons apply to the potential to open up and streamline other government entities. Broadly relevant themes and lessons learned relate to use of Gov 2.0 technologies, open-source software, cloud computing, open data publishing standards, and more efficient management and sharing of information assets intra- andinter-government.
Sept 10th, Startup Weekend NYC, “Start Gov 2.0 Startups!”
Oct. 15th, TEDxGotham: “Mesh Government to the Rescue”
Oct 26th, Open Data Working Summit, “Open Senate”
Oct 27th, GOSCON, The Government Open-Source Convention: Executive Open Data Round Table: The State of Open Government (keynote)
Oct 27th, GOSCON, The Government Open-Source Convention: “How to Root Your Agency”
Nov 3rd, GovLoop New York City “GovUp”
Nov 5th, New York City Technology Forum: “Crowdsourcing and Social Collaboration Tools”
Nov 7th, The Great Urban Hack: “Let Them Eat Data: Creating Civic Benefit from Open Government Data”
Nov 9th: Drupal Business Summit, New York: “Using Drupal to Open Up the New York State Senate”
Nov 16th: NYS Forum Cloud Computing Working Group Kickoff Meeting (co-Chair)
Nov 17th: US GSA International Open Data Conference: “Open Government Sites – Where Have We Been and Where We Are Going”
Nov 18th: Drupal Business Summit, Washington DC: “Using Drupal to Open Up the New York State Senate”
Yesterday the national Technology CEO Council just released a plan for how to save $1 trillion via technology-enabled government streamlining at the Federal level. The plan is credible, and it’s great that it’s making the rounds at the White House this week. They didn’t say it in the report, but there is a virtuous circle between open government work happening at the Federal and State levels, and this tech-enabled government streamlining called for in this plan. I believe that technology-enabled streamlining of government needs to be conducted iteratively in the context of and in parallel with comprehensive technology-enabled open government reforms. Here’s why:
- Streamlined digital information management will make it easier to publish government open data, for purposes of government transparency and also to make these considerable digital assets that we have all paid for with our tax dollars available to the private sector and the rest of the public sector.
- The Council’s streamlining plan relies on identifying inefficiencies (e.g.: business processes that can readily be streamlined) and fraud in government spending; these needles in haystacks can best be found by publishing the underlying data publicly, so that as many actors as possible– including you and I as citizens– can spend our collecting time identifying these inefficient and fraudulent needles in a haystack, rather than relying on government itself to find them. This requires comprehensive timely publishing of open data, and in some cases the crowdsourcing of the work required to clean and structure the data, so that this analysis can be carried out.
- This technology streamlining effort will doubtless involve giving new government technology contracts to commercial vendors, some of whom sit on the Council itself; in order to ensure that streamlining proposals don’t themselves become encumbered by the bias of business opportunity, timely intuitive availability of government technology contracting data is also necessary to keep the vendors honest in this process.
Finally, a natural next question is, what is the municipal and State level version of this plan, and how much could be saved in aggregate at the local and State levels, if analogous streamlining were undertaking across many cities, counties and States in parallel with this streamlining effort at the State level… Could the aggregate savings therein amount to $1.5 Trillion? $5 Trillion?
Whether at the local, State, or Federal level, I expect that we’ll see the greatest potential upside in terms of realized savings if technology-enabled government streamlining plan are carried out in close coordination with corollary comprehensive open government plans.
Andrew Cuomo today released his “OpenNY” plan, part of his expanded “Clean Up Albany: Make It Work” agenda. The plan has three major components, which apparently will be instantiated through a central OpenNY website, as well as new OpenNY websites for each New York State Agency and Authority.
- Open Information, a commitment to proactively publishing a massive trove of government data online on a central website; think of this as the Data.gov of New York;
- Open Government for Performance, a commitment to make the State’s budget and spending (including contracts, grants and subsidies) more transparent and intuitive online; think of this as usaspending.gov for New York.
- Open Collaboration, a commitment to engage New Yorkers hands-on, online in the process of governing, including through expanded us of social media; this could be a combination of efforts like Challenge.gov, Open For Questions, and effective cross-Agency use of the major social networking platforms.
While the document is more of a call to action and a set of high-level commitments than an executable plan, I believe those details will come, and I’m thrilled that a likely next Chief Executive of my State is putting these three important stakes in the ground.
I know of lot of people inside New York State government today, as well as a lot of cynical citizens outside of government, who would be inspired and re-engaged if these commitments were acted on seriously by the next Governor. I further believe that, if done right, OpenNY can help New York State improve government services while saving the State significant money in the bargain, by helping to modernize how the State manages its data, and by empowering citizens to take a more active hands-on role in their government, thus reducing the workload of government itself.
Kudos to the Cuomo campaign for this worthy beginning. I hope we’ll now see groups of New Yorkers committed to better government heed this call, begin to self-organize, and prepare to help in planning, implementing, and engaging in a new era of open, efficient, participatory government in New York State.
Read the OpenNY plan below, or the full Clean Up Albany: Make It Work on the Cuomo campaign website.
More than 150 people convened in Albany on August 19th and 20th for CapitolCamp 2010, to conduct an open and frank full-day discussion about how to build a more transparent, efficient, and participatory State government by leveraging “Gov 2.0” technologies. Co-hosted by the New York State Senate and the Office of the CIO of New York State, CapitolCamp 2010 was broken into two days: a developers summit and an unconference. Here’s video of the morning introductory session for the CapitolCamp unconference; my remarks about CapitolCamp and the work of the NYSenate CIO Office start 59:30 minutes in:
My O’Reilly interview at Gov 2.0 Expo in DC last week; please excuse the choppy quality, which seems to cut out 3-5 words every 30 seconds or so!
In April ’09 I gave a keynote about how we helped pilot new efficiency and collaboration strategies at the NYS Forum’s IT Greening Conference…
I’m excited about Open 311 DevCamp coming up on October 24th… Here’s what I hope we can map out at the event:
- How to allow 311 data to flow Local <–> State, enabling new 311 data to be sourced from constituents in NY State via NYSenate.gov, and also helping Senators to leverage 311 data to better serve their constituents.
- How to help smaller cities and towns in New York State to have a viable 311 service at low cost, potentially with State support and/or coordination.
Within the past few weeks, several top global news stories have involved prank phone calls in politics. Two were funny: Sarah Palin was punk’d by hosts of a radio show in Canada posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hung up on Barack Obama— twice. One was not: a prank call to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari from someone claiming to be India’s Foreign Minister put Pakistan on high alert for war on December 28th.
We would hope that major world governments already have redundant systems in place to ensure that they know who they’re talking to. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that, at a National Capital to National Capital level, among Nuclear Powers, they’ll figure it out– soon. My guess is that plenty of technology is already deployed and the human diligence in using it is the problem.
But what about all the other communications that impact government that transpire every day between people and places that are difficult to verify? Obama ought to be able to call any Congressperson and have them KNOW it’s him. Any Congressperson ought to be able to call a constituent and have them KNOW who it is. Any politician ought to be able to call a reporter and have them KNOW who it is. The NSA may KNOW who it is in all of these cases- I have no idea but wouldn’t be surprised– but often, even in 2008, the people on both ends of the phone having the conversation, do not.
We are used to receiving email spam, so, by and large, we have trained ourselves to be skeptical of email, and, though we don’t use it rigorously, modern email systems support both message encryption and digital signature technology that are relatively easy to use and relatively secure.
On the phone, however, most of us don’t have the same instinct of skepticism, and, unless you know the caller’s voice well, identity is typically verified only by the phone number that the caller is calling from. If the phone number that shows up on caller ID is in my address book, then I also know who I believe the phone belongs to. This does not, unfortunately, protect against number spoofing or phone theft. Indeed, the hoax call to the Pakistani President was ‘verified’ to have originated from a ‘verified’ official phone number within the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
So we need to both improve and also democratize access to more sophisticated identity verification technology for voice telecommunications. And we need to do so without further raising the specter of Big Brother, so use of any improved voice ID technology should be enabled at the option of caller and recipient alike, and evident to both parties.
I have no clue how to achieve this, but I do hope that great entrepreneurial minds are working on it, and not just leaving it to the minds of government Intelligence Services. If I were to tackle it, I would start with established public key cryptography protocols such as PGP that are inexpensive, effective and relatively easy to use in the realm of email, and develop an analogous system for voice over digital cellular networks. Remember, we don’t need to achieve 100% accuracy from any line to any line at any time– we just need to have caller and recipient know if their level of trusted identity is high or not, and we need to make it relatively easy and inexpensive to choose to place a high-identity-trust call when it really matters to do so.